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Calgary Family Law Blog

Set boundaries and rules to protect kids from child custody drama

One of the biggest concerns parents have during a divorce is protecting their children's mental health and well-being. Decisions about child custody and support have real consequences for children, and in almost all cases a breakup between parents will mean major life changes for the children involved. One paradigm Alberta parents can use when approaching parenting during a divorce is to consider the children's "rights."

Experts suggest agreeing to several basic "rights for children of divorce" in order to guide behaviour throughout and after a breakup. First on the list is the right to be protected from anger toward the other parent and the right to love and be loved by both parents. Children should also be told clearly that the divorce is not their fault, and to be given straightforward and up-to-date information about their schedule.

Protecting credit amidst a family law dispute

Divorce does not only involve the division of assets, but also the distribution of debts and, in some cases, future income. A family law dispute can cause a great deal of financial stress and can have a major impact on a person's credit if they are stuck carrying more debt than they can manage. Here are some tips for Alberta individuals, couples, and families looking to protect their credit in the case of a divorce.

The first step people should take is to fully understand their financial situation. For example, people are advised to access their credit report as soon as possible using a credit reporting company approved in Alberta. A credit report will list all financial obligations that exist on paper, which is important information when entering the divorce arena.

How to protect wealth in the family law process

For most divorcing couples, financial concerns are top-of-mind. The distribution of assets and future financial support make up the bulk of the family law process in most Alberta separations. Fortunately, there are preventative measures that can be taken to avoid an unfair or drawn-out break-up. The earlier these issues are discussed in a marriage, the easier the process will be.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that keeping property or wealth separate will automatically protect it during the divorce. For example, someone may choose to keep a property in their name and believe this means it will stay in their ownership should their marriage end. This is, quite simply, not the case. While separate bank accounts can be practical for many couples during a marriage, it does not guarantee a separation of assets during a divorce.

Stress, mental health issues can accompany a family law dispute

Many people are aware of the property-related impact a divorce can have. But what effect does this financial and personal stress have on other aspects of a person's health and well-being? Many people in Alberta are impacted by a family law dispute, and it is important to understand how this may affect the mental health of those involved.

According to the Vanier Institute of the Family, the average Canadian marriage clocks in at just under 14 years, and about 40 percent of marriages in the country end before the 20th anniversary. This indicates that divorces are not uncommon in the country. This may not be new information, but the context in which these divorces take place has changed fairly substantially. A tough housing market, high debt loads and increased instances of inter-family loans make the financial impact of a divorce more extreme than ever for Alberta divorcees.

Navigating divorce, taxes and complex asset division

Dividing assets during a divorce can be particularly difficult when a couple owns a lot of land, or if they have a shared business. For Alberta farming families, both are often in the mix, making for complex asset division. When splitting family assets, one common question among both rural and urban families is which avenue or steps can be taken to minimize taxes, such as capital gains when transferring property ownership.

There are many things that must be clarified before considering the issue of taxes. In some cases, the most "tax-friendly" option may not be possible as a prenuptial agreement, trusts, inheritance and incorporation will direct the complex asset division. Those who do wish to consider tax implications even after all this is considered should do so before the divorce is finalized, as little can be done in this regard after the legal conclusion.

How does a job loss affect spousal support negotiations?

Divorce settlements are almost always based on certain assumptions, including an assumption about the projected future earnings of each spouse. This information is often considered when calculating spousal support in Alberta. But what happens when a job loss takes place during a divorce? There are a few things divorcees should know about this challenging scenario.

The loss of a job during a divorce is very likely to come up during negotiations. Background about the job loss, such as the reasons it happened, will be important in determining how this may affect spousal support, child support, or child custody. Was it a lay-off, or a result of negative behaviours? How long will it likely take to find another job? These questions will likely come into play.

Finding family law solutions amidst domestic violence issues

Domestic violence is a topic that is getting increasing coverage in recent years, and a high-profile domestic violence incident in Calgary has reignited the conversation in Alberta. People seem to have many questions about how to manage such situations. What should be done if experiencing domestic violence? Is there a good way to help a loved one, and what family law solutions exist to protect people trying to leave an abusive household? Experts in the province are weighing in on these questions to keep people safe.

In Calgary, Alberta, there were over 21,535 domestic conflict calls last year. About one-quarter of these calls involved domestic violence. The represents a 48% increase over the five-year average, prompting police to make statements on the issue.

Navigating property division with a shared business

Figuring out who gets which assets in a divorce is rarely easy, but for some couples it can get even more complicated. This is certainly the case for couples who share a business. Alberta couples with a family business or businesses can add many complexities to the property division process. Many consider shutting down or selling the business to be the only resolution, while others seek alternative options.

Shared businesses are often the most valuable asset in a divorce, and can therefore be the most contentious. Depending on the setup of the business or the state of the couple's professional relationship, it may be possible to continue running it effectively. However, a clear code of conduct and restructuring to avoid direct contact between the exes can help make this smoother to navigate.

Declining marriage rates signal family law trends

There are many different types of families in Alberta, but unmarried or "common-law" couples seems to particularly be on the rise. Recently, Statistics Canada verified this trend. According to the General Social Survey (GSS), three-quarters of Canadian adults 25 to 64 cohabit with a partner but that a decreasing number of these couples are legally married. There are many family law implications in this trend, including managing divorce while one or both spouses are cohabiting with another partner and the rights of common law couples if a relationship dissolves.

According to the statistics, there are 19.9 million people aged 25 to 64 living in Canada in 2017. The majority, 56%, said they were married while 15% reported being in a common-law relationship. The 2016 census showed 21.3% of all couples over all age groups were in common-law relationships. This is more than triple the number reported in 1981, which was 6.3%

Understanding the basics of divorce mediation

When Alberta couples decide to end their marriages, there are often many issues to resolve. This can include custody, spousal support and asset distribution. For many families, divorce mediation is the most constructive and cost-effective option. But how does this really work in practice?

Typically, divorce mediators are lawyers who also have mediation training. This means they can help both with negotiating an agreement and manage many of the legal complexities involved in the process. Couples can also have their own lawyers attend the mediation if they choose, but should refrain from involving family or friends. 

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